Ronan is recognised as a “Rising Star” by Legal 500 and accepts instructions and has experience in all areas of Chambers’ practice including personal tax, corporate tax, VAT, stamp taxes, customs duties and international tax.
Ronan is known for being “Outstandingly good. He is very quick, very diligent, and has a very good manner with team members and clients.’ Recent examples of his work in the different areas can be found in the tabs covering specific practice areas.
A copy of Ronan's privacy notice can be found here.
Ronan has built up a significant private client practice for someone of his level of call. In the last year, as well as his advisory work, he has been involved in some major litigation. His practice covers a wide range of matters arising in the private client area.
Recent or ongoing litigation includes:
Ark Pension Schemes – This was a test case in relation to a pensions ‘liberation’ scheme. The scheme had previously been the subject of High Court litigation in Dalriada v Faulds  EWHC 3391 (Ch). In determining that unauthorised payments had occurred, the Tribunal concluded that certain payments were made “in respect of” members. The Tribunal also rejected applications for discharge of the scheme administrator’s liability. case on the application of the unauthorised payments regime involved both substantial factual disputes and legal complexity. Ronan, together with Sam Chandler of 5 Stone Buildings, was led by Laura Poots for HMRC.
Various matters involving the Transfer of Assets Abroad Code which is a widely drafted part of the UK’s anti-avoidance arsenal and the matters which Ronan has been involved in raise important technical points as to the construction of the code.
Two further ‘post-Hymanson’ cases relating to whether the tax tribunal can determine taxpayers’ tax position on the basis that the High Court would order various equitable remedies without those remedies having in fact been obtained.
Ronan’s advisory practice includes advice in relation to inheritance tax (both on lifetime transfers and on death – recent topics have included the deductibility of debts in estates, the residential nil-rate band, post-death variations, and the effect of section 144 IHTA 1984), income tax and capital gains tax (recent instructions include EIS relief, the existence of a business for incorporation relief, the applicability of the principles in Crowe v Appleby, and the assessing time-limits for personal representatives).
VAT and Indirect
Ronan’s experience belies his call as he has been involved in some of the highest profile indirect tax cases of recent years. The last has been particularly significant as it has seen Ronan brought into some of the most significant indirect cases as well as advisory cases of 2022. His unled cases include Katib v RCC.
Ronan’s experience includes:
Hippodrome Casino Ltd -v- HMRC – Working with Andrew Hitchmough KC this case related to the Hippodrome in Leicester Square. The Hippodrome makes both taxable supplies (food and drink, theatre tickets) and exempt supplies (gambling). The VAT it pays on its overheads, in particular the rent, must therefore be apportioned between these to find the amount recoverable. The standard method looks at the comparative turnover of the taxable and exempt supplies. However, where that does not reflect the use of the overheads, another calculation, which does reflect it, must be found. The Hippodrome successfully persuaded the FTT that a calculation on the basis of the floorspace used for the casino as opposed to the restaurant, bars and theatre (in which the highly popular Magic Mike Live show is performed), adjusted for the free provision of hospitality mainly to gaming customers did reflect that use.
Spectrum Community Health CIC -v- HMRC – Ronan was led by James Henderson in this case concerning healthcare in prisons under contracts with NHS England. Spectrum claimed that this involved it making zero-rated supplies of the dispensing of prescription drugs (and reduced-rate supplies of non-prescribed sexual health products). HMRC however refused to register Spectrum for VAT on the grounds that these were not separate supplies but formed part of a single composite exempt supply. The Tribunal therefore had to decide whether Spectrum was making a single supply or a number of separate supplies. Having found that this was a single supply, the Tribunal had to decide on the proper characterisation of that supply. An interesting feature of Spectrum’s arguments was the claim that EU law required that the dispensing of prescription drugs to be given a different VAT treatment despite the identification of a single supply.
Ronan is also involved in a number of ongoing cases relating to the application of the medical exemption and the extent to which the VAT code has kept up to date with the evolving understanding in the medical field of the importance of protecting and improving the whole of a person’s health.
Ronan’s recent VAT advisory work includes the interpretation and application of the capital goods scheme in a post-Mydibel world, questions on whether supplies were made for consideration, and question relating to failure to register for VAT. He advises on all areas relating to stamp duty land tax (and its devolved equivalents) including multiple dwelling relief, residential vs non-residential property and the specific trusts and partnerships provisions.
“Outstandingly good. He is very quick, very diligent, and has a very good manner with team members and clients.” Legal 500 2023
Prior to Ronan joining chambers, he worked for the European Commission on procedural protections in competition law. His Corporate Tax practice has proved to be stellar which led him to being recognised as a “Rising Star” in Legal 500 2023 and he has been the junior of choice on some of the biggest corporation tax cases of 2022, appearing twice in the Court of Appeal and once in the Upper Tribunal.
HMRC v Centrica Overseas Holdings Ltd – This was the first case on expenses of management in the Court of Appeal since 2004, and the first since the introduction of the new exclusion in that year for expenses of a capital nature. The Court of Appeal disagreed with both the First-tier and Upper Tribunals on the scope of the capital exclusion. The case is important for any company changing its investments or considering doing so. Ronan was led by James Rivett KC.
Inmarsat Global Ltd v HMRC – This case considered whether a deduction was available for launching satellites into orbit when those satellites were owned by someone other than the taxpayer’s predecessor. The taxpayer was the successor to the international organisation which provided satellite communication services to ensure safety at sea and in the air. The organisation had contracted to buy and launch the satellites into orbit, but prior to launch entered into sale and leaseback arrangements for the satellites. They therefore did not own them and could not in principle obtain capital allowances (which did not affect the organisation as it was exempt from tax).
If they had been required to provide the satellites under the terms of the lease, the organisation would have been deemed to own the satellites. Even if that was the case, however, the taxpayer could not obtain allowances unless a deemed sale also deemed the taxpayer to own the satellites (rather than e.g. simply providing a valuation mechanism).
Ronan was led by Richard Vallat KC and Michael Gibbon KC (of Maitland Chambers).
Burlington Loan Management DAC v HMRC – This was the first UK case on the meaning and application of a purpose test in a double tax treaty.These tests are a common part of the UK’s domestic anti-avoidance machinery and have been widely adopted in tax treaties – although the multi-lateral instrument has changed their wording for the future. Burlington as an Irish company would be entitled to relief from tax under Article 12 of the UK-Ireland treaty on interest received on a claim it bought in the Lehman insolvency – unless it was the “main purpose”, or “one of the main purposes”, of any “person concerned with the assignment” of the claim to “take advantage” of Article 12 of the Treaty. The seller, however, was not resident in a country whose tax treaty provided for relief. The case reviews the law on the interpretation of treaties and whether, for example, statements by ministers introducing legislation to give effect to treaties can be relevant material in interpreting the treaty. One important finding of the FTT was the necessity to have a purpose of taking advantage of the specific exemption in question. Ronan was led by John Brinsmead-Stockham (now KC)
Kwik-Fit v HMRC – The taxpayer group had reorganised its intra-company debt to access otherwise ‘trapped’ losses; as part of that reorganisation, the interest rates were raised from nil or a low level to an arm’s length rate. This meant that c.£48 million of losses were used in 3 years rather than 25 years. The FTT had found that this was barred by the unallowable purpose rule, but had varied slightly the apportionment of the disallowed interest to that unallowable purpose. On appeal, the taxpayers sought to argue (in particular) that the use of already existing losses could not as a matter of statutory interpretation constitute a tax advantage, that there was insufficient evidence for the FTT to have concluded that the taxpayer companies had a purpose of deducting the increased interest debits under the loan relationships, and that on apportionment, because the transfer pricing rules required the interest rates to be adjusted to this level, no debits could be apportioned to any unallowable purpose. Ronan, led by Elizabeth Wilson KC, acted for HMRC.
Ronan’s corporate advisory work includes the existence and transferability of goodwill in medical practices, consideration of incorporation and EIS reliefs, questions relating to share-for-share exchanges, and on the transactions in securities code.
2017-2018 – Pupillage, Pump Court Tax Chambers
2017 – Advisor to the Hearing Officers, Office of the Hearing Officer for Competition Proceedings, European Commission
2016-2017 – Stage Atypique, Office of the Hearing Officer for Competition Proceedings, European Commission
2016 – Called to the Bar (Lincoln’s Inn)
2015-2016 – City Law School, City University London – BPTC (Outstanding)
2014-2015 – City Law School, City University London – GDL (Commendation)
2010-2014 – Exeter College, University of Oxford – Literae Humaniores BA
Scholarships and Prizes
2016 – Scholarship to the Office of the Hearing Officer for Competition Proceedings, European Commission (Lincoln’s Inn)
2016 – Buchanan Prize (Lincoln’s Inn)
2015-2016 – Lord Denning Scholarship (Lincoln’s Inn)
2014-2015 – Lord Haldane Scholarship (Lincoln’s Inn)
2014 – Hardwicke Entrance Award (Lincoln’s Inn)
2014 – Elsie Beck Prize (Exeter College, Oxford)
French (fluent conversational)